ASX is ending out the year on a strong note, with financials leading the way in the last full day of trading for the year as a Santa rally continued for a second day.

The S&P/ASX200 index closed up 57.1 points, or 1.02 per cent, to close at 5654.3 at 1615 AEDT on Friday.

The moves followed Thursday’s gains of 103.4 points, or 1.88 per cent, the index’s biggest percentage gains in over two years.

The broader All Ordinaries was up by 53.9 points, or 0.95 per cent, to close at 5716.

Nearly all sectors were higher, except for real estate and utilities.

Financials were up 2.34 per cent, with Westpac gaining the most, 72 cents or 2.98 per cent, to close at $24.91.

The energy sector gained 1.09 per cent, with Texas-based but ASX-listed oil exploration company Freedom Oil and Gas up 7.69 per cent to finish at 14 cents.

Another big gainer were pharmaceuticals, with Mesoblast Limited up 15.38 per cent to close at $1.20 and Cann Group up 10.53 per cent to finish at $2.10. Both companies are still well off their highs for the month, however.

New listing Atomos, a Melbourne-based video technology company, closed at 50 cents after selling $6 million worth of shares for 41 cents earlier in the month.

It made for a “really exciting” day for CEO Jeromy Young, a Sydney native who fulfilled a dream of taking a company public on his hometown exchange.

Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone in Melbourne, noted that trading volume was light and said it far from clear the market had rebounded.

“I wouldn’t read anything into what we’re seeing today,” he said. “It doesn’t give us anything into what we’ll see next week, into what we’ll see next year.”

The big question is whether too much pessimism has been priced into the market for 2019, he said.

US stocks roared back to end in positive territory, with the Dow Jones adding 1.14 per cent after steep losses for much of the session.

Weston said much of that may have had to do with pension funds rebalancing their portfolio as the year ends.

“We’re just rounding out the year on what is a positive note.”

Oil prices fell, with Texas crude at $45.41 a barrel, down 1.75 per cent.

The Aussie edged higher, buying 70.46 US cents, up from 70.30 on Thursday.

Equities trading on the ASX ends for the year at 2.30pm on Monday, New Year’s Eve.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 57.1 points, or 1.02 per cent to 5654.3

* The All Ordinaries was up 53.9 points, or 0.95 per cent, to 5716.

* At 1415 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up 86 points, or 1.5 per cent, at 5607.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 70.48 US cents, from 70.55 on Thursday

* 78.02 Japanese yen, from 78.35

* 61.54 euro cents, from 61.99

* 55.66 British pence, from 55.75

* 105.05 NZ cents, from 104.97


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1415 AEDT was $US1,277.30 per fine ounce, from $US1,273 on Wednesday.